HTF REVIEW: "The Thin Man" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Sep 30, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    47,715
    Likes Received:
    5,075
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    [​IMG]

    The Thin Man




    Studio: Warner Brothers (originally MGM)
    Year: 1934
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 91 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portugese



    "The murderer is sitting in this room sitting
    at this table. You may serve the fish."

    Wow!
    I feel quite uncomfortable admitting that before
    today, I had never seen a single Thin Man
    film. Most of my youth was spent watching films
    from the 50's and 60's. Anything further back was
    mostly Cagney and Bogart films.
    In order to properly do this review, I decided
    to do some research. I discovered that The Thin
    Man is the first installment in a line of a
    popular series of films, 6 in all, that spanned
    the years 1934-1947. The film originated from a
    1932 detective novel that was written by one of
    the masters of the genre, Dashiell Hammett. It's
    easy to see why this series was so popular -- there
    was absolutely wonderful and witty repartee and
    chemistry between William Powell and Myrna Loy. I
    can see how audiences immediately fell in love with
    the both of them -- I know I did!
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    As the film opens, we meet an eccentric, tall,
    inventor named Clyde Wynant (Edward Ellis) - the
    "thin man" of the film title. Clyde is working
    in his basement inventor's workshop. He is suddenly
    interrupted when his daughter Dorothy (Maureen
    O'Sullivan) and future son-in-law Tommy (Henry
    Wadsworth) arrive to announce their wedding plans.
    Clyde tells her that he is going away to work on
    a invention, but refuses to tell her exactly where
    he is going or when he will return. The only promise
    he makes is that he will return in time for Christmas
    to give her away.
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    As the Christmas season draws to a close and the
    inventor has yet to return, his worried daughter
    contacts Nick Charles (William Powell), a once
    celebrated private detective known for solving
    high-profile cases and landing on the front pages
    of the tabloids. He married a beautiful woman named
    Nora (Myrna Loy), and has since gone into retirement,
    dedicating his life to the woman he loves (and spending
    her money as well).
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    With a murder case practically falling into Nick's
    lap, his wife pushes him to come out of retirement
    and help solve the case. Nick finally does some
    investigating on his own and decides the only way
    to solve the murder is to invite all the crazy
    suspects to a large dinner in hopes one of them
    will confess. You have no idea how wild an evening
    this is going to be until Nora Charles exclaims,
    "Waiter, will you serve the nuts? - I mean, would
    you serve the guests the nuts?"
    How is the transfer?
    Granted, this film is nearly 70 years old. I have
    never seen any previous television or video
    broadcasts, so I am very uncertain as to how this
    film originally looked and how much Warner has
    cleaned it up for DVD. I mention this because I
    am a little concerned about the quality of this
    transfer which looks average, at best. The print
    is filled with occasional scratches and nicks.
    Starting at chapter 13, there is what appears to
    be a constant scratch line down the entire right
    edge of the frame. This line continues through most
    of the following chapter. I also felt that the
    image quality wasn't overly sharp with some of the
    shots looking a little on the hazy side.
    The mono soundtrack is as good as one would
    expect from a film of this era -- sounding shrill
    and raw. There's also a considerable amount of
    audible background hiss here.
    [​IMG]
    Still, considering the film's age and the fact
    that Warner Brothers probably wasn't going to do
    a total restoration of this film, this is probably
    good enough to satisfy fans. I remember talking
    to a restoration team at another studio who
    reminded us that there was a lot of hesitance to
    release many of the old B&W titles for the mere
    fact that the studios could not afford to completely
    restore every title to pristine perfection. It is
    unfortunate that DVD has spoiled us to the point
    where we demand the best from every title,
    and I am afraid it is not always possible.
    Special Features
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    Basically what we have here are the trailers for
    all 6 Thin Man movies as well as a cast and
    crew filmography page that is rather limited in
    browsing capability.
    Final Thoughts
    The fun of watching The Thin Man has very
    little do with figuring out who murdered who, but
    rather sitting back and enjoying the witty banter
    of Powell and Loy. The film may not have been the
    perfect whodunit, but it sure prompts one to mix
    a martini and spend an evening with Nick and Nora.
    [​IMG]
    If you are looking to broaden your horizons into
    some fine classic cinema, this is a great place to
    start!
    Release Date: October 1, 2002
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,555
    Likes Received:
    186
    Location:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    Well, despite it having a few scars...it IS 68 years old..

    As for the softness, I suspect WB used a nitrate source. The screenshots look very nitrate-like...

    Looks like another classic I'll need to pick up...thanks for the review.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    30,475
    Likes Received:
    5,760
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    Ronbo,
    I've seen this film more times than I care to remember, and I never seen it look as good as it does on this dvd. Sure, there are scratches and blemishes on the dvd, but since this film was made in 1934, I thought it looked damn good for it's age. I'm willing to bet that the elements used for this dvd transfer were in horrible condition to begin with. Off the top of my head, I think William Powell and Myrna Loy starred in 13 films together which is probably a record for a screen couple. Their interplay and timing is arguably the best ever between an actor and actress. I just hope that the other five sequels get released. Did you know that this film was shot in just two weeks? MGM thought this film was just going to be another "B" picture, until they discovered what they had.



    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Alan_Horner

    Alan_Horner Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2001
    Messages:
    232
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've refrained from buying this because of the possibility of a Thin Man box set.

    Mind you: possibility. There hasn't exactly been a flood of old B&W classics. Where are the multi-disc sets of Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, [fill in the blank]?

    Of course, if Warners is using sales for this disc as an indicator of interest in the rest of the series, not buying it now kind of hurts any future releases. But since I won't buy it twice...
     
  5. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 1999
    Messages:
    2,970
    Likes Received:
    703
    Ron-
    Thanks for the review. Yep, the fact is we have been
    spoiled, but I also understand that the studio isn't
    going to crank out
    North By Northwest-quality tranfers
    for every title.
    I am thrilled that this will STILL
    be a substantial upgrade from my SuperVHS version,
    nicks, scraches, hiss and all. [​IMG]
    Mark
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    30,475
    Likes Received:
    5,760
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert

    There isn't an "if" to Warners gauging interest in this series by how well the original sells.



    Crawdaddy
     
  7. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2001
    Messages:
    3,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    Those screen grabs do look really soft. It doesn't matter though. I'll be voting with my dollars tomorrow in hopes of one day having them all.
     
  8. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2001
    Messages:
    5,015
    Likes Received:
    0
    Looking at those screenshots, I'd say it looks pretty good for a film of its age.

    You know, I've never seen this film, but always wanted to. Don't know why I never rented the VHS tape. Oh well....

    I'll be watching it tomorrow.

    Thanks for the review!
     
  9. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 1999
    Messages:
    3,431
    Likes Received:
    973
    Real Name:
    Peter Apruzzese
    Am I the only person who feels like they have a hangover after watching one of the early Thin Man movies? Either that, or I need to pound back a few while viewing the adventures of Nick & Nora... [​IMG]
    Can't wait to get this one - the screenshots look accurate to my eye.
     
  10. Rob W

    Rob W Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 23, 1999
    Messages:
    583
    Likes Received:
    166
    Location:
    Toronto
    Real Name:
    Robert
    I strongly agree that this film looks better than anything I've seen before. The blacks are strong and the greyscale is wide. The print does show it's age in spots
    but the sound has far less hiss than it used to. I don't find it offensively soft for an early 30's title.

    Sometimes I feel that the "new guys" have unrealistic expectations compared to those of us who have seen these films in 16mm, repertory cinema and tv prints over the years. This is truly an improvement, and anyone who passes it by is missing a gem.
     
  11. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2001
    Messages:
    5,015
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  12. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 1999
    Messages:
    2,970
    Likes Received:
    703
    Yep, I think those waiting for some box set are shooting
    themselves in the foot. What do you gain by waiting for
    a never-announced, possibly never released box set?

    A box.

    hmmmm, not a tough call whether to wait to buy or not,
    especially if not buying now means I am "casting my
    vote" for Warner Bros NOT to release the rest of the
    series.

    Mark
     
  13. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2000
    Messages:
    12,251
    Likes Received:
    1
    Ron, glad you liked it. I know I'm looking forward to getting my copy! I'm glad to hear the transfer is acceptable - all six Thin Man films were aired on TCM recently and the print used for The Thin Man was rather worn. Your screenshots show that the DVD transfer is a modest improvement.
    I don't suppose you got a review copy of The Shop Around the Corner? [​IMG]
     
  14. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2000
    Messages:
    9,467
    Likes Received:
    0
    Mine is on the way along with The Shop Around The Corner.
     
  15. Nigel McN

    Nigel McN Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2000
    Messages:
    848
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is totally on my wish list, I have a couple of these films on video (thanks to TNT [​IMG] ) and will willing replace them with dvds (when I am able).
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    47,715
    Likes Received:
    5,075
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Guys,

    Thanks, as always, for the warm feedback.

    You will notice I did not put down the
    transfer, but rather questioned it since I
    have never seen this film on any medium before
    DVD.

    It's so nice to read your feedback and realize
    that this transfer is a substantial improvement
    over what has been previously broadcast.
     
  17. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Messages:
    8,658
    Likes Received:
    1,366
    Location:
    North Hollywood, CA
    Real Name:
    Brandon Conway
    Since I've wanted to see this film for a while this disc is definitely going on the top of my "to rent" list. Thanks Ron [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  18. Brian McHale

    Brian McHale Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 1999
    Messages:
    514
    Likes Received:
    12
    Real Name:
    Brian McHale
    This one should be on its way. I'm sure looking forward to retiring my Beta copy.
     
  19. John_VI

    John_VI Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2002
    Messages:
    268
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the review, Ron. But this brings up a question. What would be a good resource for classic films on DVD such as this? I mean, not just to buy, but to find out what's available, how the transfers are, etc...? Is there a single resource for such info?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  20. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

    Joined:
    May 22, 1999
    Messages:
    5,182
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oh Joy! The Thin Man series is one of my personal favorites. Not only is it the start of the "husband & wife" detective genre, it is a time-capsule into 1930's America. This is a must-buy for my collection.
    WARNING: watching these movies may incite you to drinking and wearing hats. [​IMG]
     

Share This Page